According to the "OECD Health Statistics 2014: How Does India Compare" report, the overall health spending accounted for only four per cent of the GDP in India in 2012, out of which only 33 per cent of health spending was funded by public sources. Further, health accounted for only 4.8 per cent of total government spending in 2012. India ranks extremely high even among other developing countries in out-of-pocket costs on healthcare.
The Grey Area
Generally, women's health receives attention only during pregnancy; this comes from our patriarchal understanding of women's role in society. Cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, respiratory diseases and trauma are major causes of death for women worldwide. The health profile of India by WHO reveals that women have a higher life expectancy in comparison to men, but this is marred by disorders like musculoskeletal diseases, depression, etc. Social structures and prejudices also create an environment in which women's health and well-being are further compromised.
Due to a lack of disease-specific data on gender differences, there is a complete absence of evidence about preventive care for women, along with issues like increased consumption of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Gender disparities have also crept into healthcare delivery and women's access to treatment.
Traditionally, much of the work done by women is performed within the context of the family. As women move beyond their traditional occupations in today's era, they meet new health hazards which add to the existing occupational hazards.
Globally, psychological violence at work, especially bullying, violence, mobbing and harassment (including sexual harassment) are reported to be major concerns for women. As a result of the neglect of women's occupational injuries, women are reported to be at much lower risk of occupational injuries and accidents. For instance, till recently, deteriorating respiratory health due to pollution from household cooking was not considered an occupational health issue. Whatever little data is available on women's occupational health and safety issues is mostly aggregated and this ignores many important aspects of women's health profiles.
A UN study of 31 countries shows women are working 10 to 30 per cent more hours than men and that two-thirds of women's work is unpaid, unvalued and invisible. Yet our national health programmes fail to address health issues pertinent to women. Thus, there is a high urgency for a comprehensive plan for women's health whether in the workplace, household, or other spheres.
By: Moulshri Kanodia